An avid reader of comics and a fan of most things nerd, Carly Berkowitz follows the local and indie comics scene regularly. She is also an undercover superhero.
Shauna Grant is the artist and writer of Princess Love♥Pon, a webcomic that has been recognized by several groups and featured during this year’s black comics month. Here, our own Carly Berkowitz gets a chance to talk with Grant about Princess Love♥Pon and her world of magical girls.
Colorful transformations, fighting for justice with love and bravely standing up to the forces of evil – all while wearing heels. To any fan of anime, the magical girl genre is immediately recognizable, with series’ like Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura often being the shows that introduced many consumers to anime in general.
To Shauna Grant, the concept of magical girls was not only a source of entertainment, but also inspiration, and from that inspiration came her webcomic Princess Love♥Pon.
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“I’ve always pretty much loved magical girl series’, so that’s just always been a part of me,” said Grant. And when she wanted to make a webcomic, her love of the genre came to the forefront. “I decided that I feel like doing something really cutsie and relating to romance.”
Princess Love♥Pon tells the story of Lia Sagamore, the average high school girl living the average high school life, when suddenly she is granted magical love powers by a fairy named Hunnie. From that moment on, Lia becomes the cute and heroic Princess Love Pon, charged to fight against darkness and despair.
“It’s a magical girl series and she fights with hearts and kisses and helps people through their emotional dilemmas,” explained Grant.
The comic is everything one would expect from a magical girl story – cute and fluffy, drawn in shades of pastel pink with a distinctly anime style. In fact, the art and color scheme of Princess Love♥Pon was inspired by serially published Japanese manga. However, one of the things that makes Princess Love♥Pon unique is that the majority of the main cast is black.
“I feel like not a lot of stories center around black female characters that are really bubbly and cute,” said Grant. “I think that at the end of the day I was kind of inspired to write something that was really girly and feminine but still with a strong character.”
According to Grant, most media shows a distinct duality between being traditionally feminine and being strong. In her comic, she wanted to wed the two ideas with no stigma attached.
“A lot of people like to write strong female characters but it kind of goes away from super-girly and feminine, and I’m like… you can be both,” said Grant. “I really wanted to incorporate that with a character of color.”
The story of the comic is light and easy to read but has no overarching plot at the moment, though Grant hints at bringing the story together in the future as well as some interesting additions.
“One of the main things people have been commenting is ‘is there going to be more magical girls?'” said Grant. “A lot of the times I will say that Princess Love♥Pon is more like Princess Tutu or Card Captor Sakura rather than Sailor Moon, but I will say that there is other magical… people.”
Only about two and a half chapters have been released to date as the comic is only a year old, so much more is yet to come from Princess Love♥Pon.
“As I go along writing each chapter and thinking about where the story is heading to in the future, I have come to the realization that a lot of it is kind of centered around how I feel and what friends have told me,” explained Grant. “At it’s core, Princess Love♥Pon is a story about these young people figuring out how to communicate to each other and how to come to terms with what they’re feeling and reaching out to somebody about it.”
Overall, Princess Love♥Pon is an experience of light and love – great for fans of shoujo or anyone interested in the lighter side of things – however, the series may not be for everyone. The comic lacks heavy angst and while it does have emotional moments, chapters usually end with a smile and a kiss.
Princess Love♥Pon can be read on both her comic website and Tumblr, with Grant herself active on Twitter. Grant is also very active in the convention circuit on the east coast of the United States, where she sells her art including printed copies of Princess Love♥Pon chapter 1. This year, she hopes to attend Matsuri-con, SPX, Anime Weekend Atlanta, and Youmacon.
Carly Berkowitz is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @CaptainComic